Taking the Plunge

One of the biggest moments in each of my daughter’s lives is the day they decided to jump off the rock.  The rock is a boulder that sits in the middle of a mountain river in Townsend, Tennessee.  It fell off the cliff that borders the river a long time ago and has served as a perch for swimmers ever since. 

Back in the fifties, my wife’s great-grandfather bought that cliff and the rock and the swimming hole that surrounds it along with a few acres of land and some old cabins.  Her family has flocked there for summer vacations ever since.

For every child who spends much time at the river, there comes a season when you can tell they’re thinking about jumping off the rock.  The first time they do it, it’s no easy task.  The mountain water is painfully cold even in the heat of summer. The poor kid has to swim or take a tube across stream, fighting the current all the way. 

Once they actually make it to the rock, they have to find handholds to climb it.  The surface is slippery so they have to watch their step if they don’t want to end up skidding back into the river, scraping their legs on the jagged edges.  I still have a scar from tussling with the rock myself.

All of this gives a kid plenty to think about sitting on the beach watching others swim across and take the plunge.  But the real moment of decision doesn’t come on the shore.  It comes once they actually make it up on the rock.  That’s where the internal tug-of-war begins.  Am I going to stand here on this rock all day or am I actually going to jump? 

I’ve gone through this with both of my girls, swimming out with them, helping them up on the rock, and treading water in the swift current waiting for them to go for it.  Some days I’ve waiting longer than others.  The rock looks a whole lot taller once you’re up on top of it than it does from the beach. 

I can still see their faces scrunched up with worry as they tried to work up their nerve.  I could tell they were wondering how deep the water really was, how cold it really was and how far they’d sink when they hit the river.  But most of all, the biggest question they were wrestling with was how much could they trust their dad.   

Would I really be able help them when they jumped?

I know how they feel.  I ask the same questions about God all the time.  Sometimes, God invites us to jump, to do something far outside our comfort zone.  Go on a mission trip.  Serve the homeless.  Teach a class.  Take a new job.  Open our house to someone who is lonely.  Give generously.  Write a book. 

Whatever it may be for you, it is a true leap of faith.  Like my daughters, we may stand on the edge of this decision for what feels like forever, trying to work up our nerve to go for it.  But the real question comes down to how much we can trust our heavenly Father.  Will his presence in the water outweigh the fear in our hearts?

The Bible is full of stories of real people just like you and me who God invited to take the plunge.  Some of them shrank back from the invitation while others leapt with wild abandon.  In the book of Joshua, we meet a young leader who was facing the same doubts and questions you and I face when God calls us out.  The advice God gave Joshua still applies today, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

Remember, it’s not the height of the jump or the depth of the stream that matters, but it’s who is in the water that counts.  We can trust our dad in heaven to catch us every time we leap to him. 

So what are you waiting for?  Take the plunge.  The adventure of a lifetime is waiting for you the moment your feet leave the security of the rock behind. 

Dancing Around the Cobra

You think you have a bad job?  How would you have liked to have been the poor guy at the Bronx Zoo who had to tell his boss the cobra was missing?  Imagine how that conversation went. 

“So, boss, the good news is that the lines are really moving fast over at the reptile house.  The bad news is that it’s because people are running for their lives.” 

Yeah, I bet that went well. 

When you have a snake on the loose whose venom can kill a guy in fifteen minutes, it’s probably time to take action.  There are just some moments in life when you can’t afford to beat around the bush. 

You have to speak up. 

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The Ride of Your Life

You ever have one of those defining moments in your life?  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones where you’re facing some huge, insurmountable challenge, and you have to decide, am I going to go for it and take down Goliath?  Or am I going to run away like a scared little girl?
I used to have an unreasonable fear of heights, and every year, when my family would take our annual trip to King’s Island, I would have to decide if this was going to be the year I would conquer it.  And every year, I would come home utterly defeated.
But then I got a free pass through my middle school years.  I suspect we stayed home those years because my parents knew I would just sissy out when it came to the big rides.  What’s the point in spending all of that money and driving to Cincinnati, just to watch your son eat cotton candy? 
So, throughout junior high I got to lay low and pretend my acrophobia didn’t exist.  Then in the summer of 1987, the summer I turned fifteen, King’s Island introduced its first new roller coaster in years, the Vortex. 
From the moment I saw the TV commercial that featured a monstrous, robotic hand twisting metal coaster track in its grip, I knew my time had arrived.  The Vortex would be the altar where I would sacrifice my fear of heights.